Wednesday, February 9, 2011

How to Get Rich or Die Trying

My roof is now snow and ice free! The crew that did the work cleared everything off 100%! I cannot be more pleased. Good service is a huge plus when you can find it and I will be using this company again in the spring for roof work.

How to Get Rich or Die Trying
I am pretty sure that is a 50 Cent album name.

Look, there are millions of people in the United States and the vast majority have either limited or no net worth and another part that has some amount of a safety net. The top layer of the population is very well off and it seems most Americans spend a huge amount of time dreaming up ways to pole vault into that party. If it was easy then we would all be that top layer so how best to go about it?

I could serve up a bunch of platitudes, cliches, and other nonsense using terms like "hard work", "vision", "taking a risk", and assorted others. I wanted to cut through the crap. Here are the different ways to get rich, though mostly you will just die trying.

-Inherit the Money
-Already Have Big Money (Takes money to make money)
-Steal the Money (classical sense)
-Steal, I mean Earn the Money via High Finance and Big Banking
-Work in Government related to High Finance
-Win the Lottery
-Win Lottery with company Stock Options
-Win the Business Lottery by your grand idea catching fire; rubber vomit did not fly, but a site that allows users to post pictures and write to people is bigger than Exxon Mobil.
-Posses one in a million physical skills and win the Professional Sport Contract Lotto
-Make a sex tape that somehow wins the Sextape Lotto (can be parlayed into Reality TV Lotto)
-Win the Struggling Actor Lotto

The common thread here is that if you don't have the big ticket, getting one is basically a lotto. I now that runs counter to what we as a people want to believe. Too bad, it's true.

If you get up and go to work day in and day out, perform at the top level of your profession, invest smart, save money, dodge any major illness or injury, dodge a divorce or two, and avoid having your identity stolen you will end up ok. Maybe comfortable, maybe a little less or more so. That's it and that's all. Now that story will not get you running out of bed in the morning all fired up, but it is the truth of it for almost everyone.

Of course there is nothing wrong with this. Still, our culture seems obsessed with the big score. For every Steve Jobs personal computer game changer there are thousands of early era computer ideas that went bust. For every Zuckerburg Facebook there are thousands of similar sites that fade away. For every Lebron James there are tons of kids with knees that gave out in high school. For every Kim Kardashian there is every video on amateur porn sites (billions?).

I bring this up tonight because I am starting to see and hear some talk in my circles about getting in on the stock market. The rally has now caught the attention of the everyday person. They want to take their $1000 and play Netflix or Apple and make big money. They will not listen that it cannot be done (see above's Already Have Big Money..) in the short term and I have seen faces of people down 20% after getting in on "the sure thing" and it is always crushing.

I did ask the same folks about Gold and Silver and they were not interested in buying "jewelry" so that pleases me.

Have a good night.


GawainsGhost said...

You left off the single most important way to get rich, that is financially independent. Start your own business.

Read The Millionaire Next Door and it's follow-up The Millionaire Mind.

You'd be surprised. Over 80% of the millionaires in the US earned their fortunes in the last 50 years. Most did not attend college, and those that did were C students. (The A students work for the C students, the old saying goes.)

The average millionaire lives in a house that costs less than $200,000, drives a used car, and dresses casually. You couldn't spot him out of the thousandaires walking down the street.

What he did do was start a business. Live cheap--minimize expenses, maximize savings--and invest in his company. I know an air conditioning repairman who makes more money, owns more property, and has more assets than any lawyer I know. And I know a couple hundred of lawyers.

My father attended one semester of college, then dropped out. Took a six weeks course in computer programming and became a systems analyst. He not only wrote, but designed and installed the entire network all the banks, credit unions, savings and loans, hospitals, law offices--any business that needed a computer to run its monthly statements on--down here in the 70s and 80s. (And this county is larger than some states.) He worked his way up to president of the company.

My mother never attended an hour of college in her life. She raised four children, then took a job as an apartment manager and secretary, became a realtor, then a broker, and made so much money that she bought the company. There was a time when my father's entire income couldn't cover the taxes on what my mother earned.

I went to college, became a teacher. (I wanted the summer vacations.) But when my father was stricken with cancer, I resigned and went to work. Responsibilities of the first-born son, that sort of thing.

Last year, my mother and I listed and sold 121 repossessed houses. The average realtor nationwide will list and sell 6 houses. Together we earned, not to brag, commissions in excess of $200,000. And the company we own is worth approximately $10,000,000.

Yet we live in a modest condominium complex--I have mine, she has hers--probably worth maybe $40,000 each. I drive an old Ford Ranger--I did splurge on an RX-8 but seldom drive it, because it isn't suitable for work. She drives a Malibu. We both dress very casually. (I, of course, wear a suit and fedora when I go to Cowboys games, which after the embarrassment that was this Super Bowl isn't likely in the near future.)

We're millionaires, but you couldn't tell it from seeing us on the street. Or in the office. This is what I'm talking about.

We just go about our business, do our jobs, and make money. We own the company, and don't take shit from anyone. It's as simple as that.

Anonymous said...

Together we earned, not to brag, commissions in excess of $200,000. And the company we own is worth approximately $10,000,000.

How the hell is a company with 200K net profits worth 10MM?

Accumulated earnings?

getyourselfconnected said...

yours is a great stoy and I know how hard you worked to ge there. I was being very general.

I think that was one years profits but I think it necessary for that info to be kept close to the vest.

GawainsGhost said...

We are not the only realtors in our company. There are two other brokers and six other realtors. Combined they sold somewhere around 300 houses.

Back in the day, we had two offices. But my mother decided that she had twice to office expense, but wasn't selling twice as much houses. So the company bought an old ranch house centrally located between the two major markets. Seven acres of undeveloped land, that alone today would sell for $1.7 million. But you'd have to be a fool to sell it today, because in 10 or 20 years it would be worth at least three times that much.

That doesn't include the company name, which was worth $250,000 in 1980 when it was a small office operated out of an apartment complex. Nor does it include the listings, of which there are over 300. So, anyone who wants to buy the office, the land, the company, and the listings--at 3% of list price for each--would have to pay us a whole lot of money.

But none of that is for sale, now. It may be in 20 years, after it's grown even larger and the market has recovered. But between now and then we'll just keep selling houses and earning commissions. We are comfortable, after all, as it is.

By the way, I went to a continuing education class last year. Talk about boring. On the last day this clown came in to teach how to set up a website. This is how you do it, this is how much it costs, blah blah blah. Then he goes to this google site where you can see how many inquiries your website is generating. His generated some 20,000.

This got all the girls in class excited, and they all asked to search their companys' websites. 27,000, 30,000, ding ding ding, we have a winner!

Finally, I couldn't take any more and said, do a search on my company. 913,000 inquiries. And everyone turned around and stared at me. How could you get so many inquiries? "Well," I said, "we don't have a website. All of our listings are posted on That's where all the traffic is, and it's free." Class dismissed.

These are franchises of nationwide chains. They have multiple offices, dozens of brokers and hundreds of realtors. We're just a small company. But our listings generate 30 orders of magnitude more than theirs do, and we sell more houses every year than all of them combined.

Yeah, it's nice to be rich, but it's a lot of work. More work than any of you can imagine. I'm just saying that the way to get rich in this country is to own your own company, invest in yourself, build your business, then sell when the time is right.

Unlike GYC, whom I respect, I don't invest in the stock market or precious metals. Hell, I don't even invest in real estate, even though I know the business and have the connections. I just do my job, save as much as I can, and help my mother grow our company. In the end, that will pay off. And it's the best investment I can make.

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